Why Do Australians Call Slot Games Pokies

In Australia, English is a national language, since they don’t have an official language at a federal level. But, as there are differences between British and American English, you can guess that Australian English has some differences too. There are plenty of examples for that, and today, we will talk about pokies. As you can see in the title, it’s the term Australians use for the popular slot machines.

Nowadays, people from all around the world can access foreign versions of online casinos, and they may get confused by the terms used to name some specific games. But, initially, in Australia, slot machines were known as poker machines, since the winning combinations were compared to the poker ones. As time went by, things were changing, but the people have already adopted a habit and no one ever tried to change that. As you can see on casinoranking.lv, even on online casinos you can find pokies and play them.

If you’ve ever played an Australian casino or been in Australia and got stuck in games like this, you are probably not unfamiliar with the term pokies. Practically, as we have already said, these are the classic slot machines, which in parts of the world are also known as fruit machines.

What do pokies mean?

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Probably when you first hear this word, it will be more like poker than a slot machine. As we have explained, Australians once called slot machines poker machines and this trend has persisted for decades and there is no need to change, but only to adapt to the needs.

Although it sounds like the word “poke” to you, in practice, there is no similarity in semantic meaning, except that you may have to poke the button on the machine in order for the game to start spinning.

At this point, no one can explain why Australians originally called slots poker machines, as there is no common denominator. But the main theory is that at one point they ranked the winning lines based on the order of the winnings as in poker. For example, if there are three identical fruits in the winning line combined with two others, they call it a full house. Probably where the poker association comes from.

People in Australia love abbreviations

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If you’ve ever been to Australia or have relatives who live there and are in constant communication, you cannot ignore the fact that they love to shorten words, even those that are already short. If you hear someone invite you to Barbie, they are not calling you to play with the popular doll, but to a barbeque. Even they call themselves Aussies more often than Australians.

So it is quite understandable that even poker machines were called by an abbreviated acronym. However, there is no solid evidence for any theory, so we can interpret it as it suits us. We came across another interesting theory, according to which people were poking their hands through the machine, to press a button or enter money, hence the association with the term “poke”. However, the theory of cutting Poker machines into a short and simple word that is easy to remember is more plausible.

Is there a difference between pokies and slots?

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There is practically no difference because these are the same machines as around the world. The only difference is the location where they are placed. In such situations, only the geographical actor, ie the dialect or the version of a certain language makes the difference. As we mentioned at the beginning of this article, just as there are differences between British and American English, there are some differences between Australian and English.

A similar example in Spanish, which is spoken in parts of South America and is generally the same language, but there are many differences. People are adapting terminology from their environment, and in Australia, there are a lot of immigrants who bring in elements from their native language. This is one of the reasons why they do not have an official language, but English is spoken nationally.

So, it can be said that the same slot machine will have different names, depending on where you are in the world. You will hear about fruit machines in England, but in Scotland, for example, they are called puggies, but we will surely explain that on another occasion, with another article.

Other explanations

Connoisseurs of gambling as an industry believe that in principle, many things are based on winning combinations of poker, so there are associations with this game. According to many, even in New Zealand, which is quite close to Australia, slot machines are called pokies. Of course, the other theories I list apply.

The Australian speaking area is very rich in slang, dialects, new words, and foreign words that are incorporated into Australian English. Therefore, any automated machine in a casino can be called a poker machine, whether the game is close to poker or not. It also explains why slots were originally called poker machines. Then, of course, their desire to cut prevailed, so we have the pokies.


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No matter where you are in the world and what your desire is to name things, the fact is that with poker, slots, and other games of chance and gambling, you have to be really careful about what you do. You are probably already aware of the challenges you will face when joining an online casino. What you need to know and never forget is that gambling is a risky activity, whether you are in Europe, America, or Australia.

Pokies are exactly the same as slots, which means that the same rules apply and you should not joke with them, even if their name sounds cute and interesting.

On the other hand, it was really interesting to learn more about the linguistic aspects of Australia and the way they prefer to communicate, and what they call everyday things around them. The language and its versions are truly a great linguistic treasure of the world.